REVIEW Solo: A Star Wars Story (SPOILER FREE)

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(SPOILER FREE)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a good first attempt at a Han Solo movie.  We will probably never know the full story of its troubled production. But Ron Howard’s Solo delivers a fun adventure with characters you want to spend more time with.

Solo tells the origin story of smuggler turned hero Han Solo and his partner Chewbacca.  Ever since Solo and Chewie first appeared in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, they have been fan favorites.  Consequently, the production of a Han Solo movie without the original actor, Harrison Ford, made many fans skeptical of its quality.

THE GOOD

The best feature of Solo is its side characters.  Joonas Suotamo’s Chewbacca shines in every scene he’s in.  Joonas is able to deliver both emotion and meaning without speaking a word.  A single glance from Chewie can tell you everything he’s thinking.

Woody Harrelson is great as a world-weary mentor to young Han Solo.  And Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian channels the same kind of charisma Billy Dee Williams first brought to the roll.  Lando’s first officer, L3-37, is also a joy to watch.  L3 is a perceptive character that always says what’s on her mind, even though she’s a robot without a mouth.

At the heart of Solo is a heist film.  A story about a diverse group of characters coming together to do a job.  Solo shows off its cast best when their working together to pull off the robbery.  From the recruitment of team members to the action filled getaway, Solo delivers a fun ride.

 

THE BAD

Solo gets into trouble when its not focused on the heist.  The early introductions and final showdown don’t have the same energy given during the robbery. Characters give clumsy exposition and reveals meant to be epic are anticlimactic. The movie becomes too busy setting up future films or forcing connections to previous ones.

Alden Ehrenreich has great moments as Han Solo, but he does not have the casual confidence Harrison Ford brought to the roll.  Alden’s Solo often has a smile that is usually more forced than natural.  And his dialogue is missing the small improvisations Ford famously added to Star Wars.  But every now and then, Alden becomes the scoundrel audiences fell in love with 40 years ago.

 

THE UGLY

Solo has been plagued by controversy from the beginning.  The very concept of a Han Solo movie without Harrison Ford brought dismay to fans.  Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were initially praised for their previous films, but their sudden replacement by veteran director Ron Howard was a troubling sign.  Assigning credit or blame for the movie’s failings will probably become a Star Wars fan pastime.

THE WRAP UP

Solo: A Star Wars Story will probably not generate the fractured reaction Star Wars: The Last Jedi did because it plays it relatively safe (a key scene about Solo’s lineage will be the exception).  While there are many negative things about this film, there are just as many positives, if not more.  A future film continuing the adventures of young Han and Chewie would be welcome.  Hopefully Ron Howard will direct it and show us what a Solo film directed exclusively by him would be like.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

3 out of 5 Wookiee Roars

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